The night is warm and musky. I sit at the foot of a tree, nestled in between the roots. Apart from the hum of an occasional mosquito, all is quiet. Up the hill I can see tree silhouettes, standing sentinels in the night.
I’m fourteen, and this is my first youth retreat. I was drawn by the water skiing, para sailing, and a handsome counselor that could have been Sting’s twin brother, rather than any sort of spiritual hunger.
“Go out somewhere by yourself and pray”, they said, earlier in the evening.
So here I sit. Pray? Other than reciting the “Our Father” in school, praying was something that had never occurred to me, and something that I had no idea how to do.
“Um hi, I’m Jill“, was all I can think to say.
And suddenly the darkness coalesces. Something invisible yet palatable settles around me.
I feel warm.
And then all of a sudden, afraid. Afraid of the invisible Presence. Afraid of my alone-ness and now suddenly not alone-ness. I hop up and make a beeline for my cabin.
The next day they share the Gospel. Would I give myself to Jesus? Duh, of course! I met Him last night under the tree!
The rest, they say, is history. And it started with a simple invitation to begin the conversation.
Last week, I asked some friends to tell me about the first time they remember praying.
“My mum would come into our bedroom at night. And she would pray with us. There were 12 of us, so it took her a long time!”
“I was lying on a back, in a stream. The water was covering my ears. Suddenly a ray of sunlight shone through the clouds, and I said, “hello”. It was years ago now but I can still see the scene before me, clear as day!”
“My uncle was brutally murdered. After that, my mom and I started praying together.”
It’s my conviction that conversation leads to conversion. When we acknowledge His presence, and start to speak with Him, He begins to reveal Himself in wonderful ways.
Which is why I love 24/7 Prayer Rooms and adore the Prayer Truck.
Here we are, sitting in a truck. In an alley. A street level sanctuary.
Day in, day out. Inviting people to start the conversation.
“I don’t go to church, I don’t know how to pray.” We hear that all the time.
“Just start the conversation,” we say. “See what happens.”